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Walmart and Disney among backers of $23mn fund to tackle supply chain slavery

Both Walmart and Disney among backers of new fund to fight slavery in supply chains

A number of blue chips brands, including Walmart and Walt Disney, have backed a new $23mn fund aimed at tackling slave labour and promoting transparency in global supply chains.

The fund has been founded by American foundation, Humanity United, which will work with major corporations and tech start-ups to create ‘Working Capital’, which it says has a vision of building scalable solutions to improve labour practices in the global operations and extended supply chains of multinational corporations.

In addition to Humanity United, partners and supporters in the fund include: Walmart Foundation, C&A Foundation, Stardust Equity, Open Society Foundations (Soros Economic Development Fund), The Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund, and The Walt Disney Company.

"There is a growing market demand for more transparent and responsible corporate supply chains," said Ed Marcum, Managing Director at Working Capital. "We see an opportunity to invest in emerging solutions that will meet the demands of large multinational corporations while also benefiting millions of vulnerable workers at the bottom of the economic pyramid."

The fund will also leverage support from the UK's Department for International Development in ‘sidecar’ grant funding for pre-investment and seed-stage interventions.

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Led by an experienced team from Humanity United, the Fund has already invested in promising portfolio companies, further demonstrating both the market opportunity for emerging entrepreneurs to develop more innovative solutions, and demand from leading brands to adopt these solutions. Current portfolio companies include:

  • Provenance, a technology platform that uses blockchain to enable brands, suppliers, and stakeholders to trace products along their journey from producer to consumer; and
  • Ulula, a software and data analytics platform that allows organizations to engage with workers in real time to measure and monitor labour-related risks, creating more responsible global supply chains.

Working Capital said its partners and supporters share the Fund's commitment to reduce worker vulnerability and ensure greater transparency into working conditions. 

“Our aim is to use our strengths in collaboration with others to transform the supply chain systems we rely on, and we are proud to be part of the Working Capital group of partners,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, President of the Walmart Foundation.

“We believe in solutions that benefit everyone – from the workers who make the products to the consumers who purchase them, creating a shared value for business and society.”

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Supply Chain Digital Weekly